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Published on Mar 28, 2012
In 1972, Selma James set out a new political perspective. Her starting point was the millions of unwaged women who, working in the home and on the land, were not seen as "workers" and their struggles viewed as outside of the class struggle. Based on her political training in the Johnson-Forest Tendency, founded by her late husband C.L.R. James, on movement experience South and North, and on a respectful study of Marx, she redefined the working class to include sectors previously dismissed as "marginal."
Selma James is a women's rights and anti-racist campaigner and author. From 1958 to 1962, she worked with CLR James in the movement for Caribbean federation and independence. In 1972, she founded the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and in 2000 she helped launch the Global Women's Strike whose strategy for change is "Invest in Caring not Killing." She coined the word "unwaged" to describe the caring work women do, and it has since entered the English language to describe all who work without wages on the land, in the home, in the community. In 1975, she became the first spokeswoman of the English Collective of Prostitutes. She is a founding member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (2008). She co-authored the classic The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community which launched the "domestic labour debate." She has addressed the power relations within the working class movement, and how to organize across sectors despite divisions of sex, race and class, South and North.